When Mary Egan was hired to be the director of Montgomery County Community Service Day, she had less than three months to organize several thousand local soccer players in a recycling drive, and to match thousands of other volunteer citizens to some of the 100 projects planned.
Volunteers are scheduled to spruce up the Glen Echo carousel, clean a Rockville cemetery, and fix up various school grounds. Other volunteers will play "buddy-bingo," in which employes of a local bank will play bingo with senior citizens at a nursing home.
The employes at Classic Hair Design will go to two nursing homes to cut hair and give manicures to residents, and Hispanic inmates at the Montgomery County Detention Center will be treated to Latin food and music.
Community Service Day, which is scheduled Oct. 17, is an effort to "promote community spirit in Montgomery County and enhance volunteerism" according to Egan. More than 5,000 people are expected to participate.
An effort of this size is a problem to begin with, Egan says. "When you look at the scope of the project -- Montgomery County. You are dealing with a very diverse area."
She solved the problem by quickly gathering a staff of 23 volunteers who then formed separate groups aimed at geographic areas, businesses, schools and senior citizens.
The idea originated with council member Bruce Adams, who last spring created the Montgomery County Community Service Partnership, which hired Egan.
Egan, 38, said she left a six-figure job as an account executive several years ago to spend more time with her child. It was while she was working part time at the National Institutes of Health with families whose children have cancer that she met the county officials who recommended her to the partnership.
"It's nice to see that my background in business has helped me to get businesses involved," Egan said. "The response from both the business and private community has been wonderful."
Egan has an assistant, Judy Neal, as well as the volunteer staff. Some of the volunteers are friends of Egan's; one is working the eight hours of community service she was ordered to perform while on probation for a speeding ticket.
"We get them from all sources," Egan said with a laugh.
Through the end of October when her directorship ends, Egan is working up to twelve hours a day in an office donated by the Montgomery County Volunteer Center, with three phone lines and a typewriter that doesn't work.
The rest of the staff works out of their homes. Many of them have other full-time jobs, so meetings take place at night.
"It's difficult to get everything organized when people are so busy," said Egan about the volunteers. "It is not a paid job, and a lot of hours are involved, but they have to be patient and find the time."
Luckily, all have managed to find time to organize the 100 projects that will get under way Saturday.
For the individuals who have not been contacted by coordinators, but who have heard about the project and want to volunteer, Egan is matching those people herself. For information, or to volunteer, call her at 279-1666.
"I want to make sure it gets done," she said, "and if they are placed properly, they might get a good feeling about volunteering and want to keep with it.
"We hope that all our efforts are continued."
One project that will have a lasting influence on the community is the planting of 3,000 trees, a figure that blossomed from the original 1,000 that Adams wanted to have planted.
"Of course my fear is that Saturday will come, and the people will be at one park, and the trees will be at another," Egan said. "But I have my fingers crossed."